India reviews escalation ladder after Uri attack
Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed his office, India’s violations on the LoC and working boundary increased manifold. India continued with the war of words, and statements from Indian defence minister to Home Minister were reflective of India’s jingoism that exacerbated tension between the two countries. After Uri attack, India once again accused Pakistan of supporting terrorists, and claimed the other day that India carried out a surgical strike against suspected militants along the de-facto border with Pakistan in Kashmir. A senor Indian army official said: “The operation was aimed at preventing attacks being planned by Pakistan-based militants. Significant casualties have been caused to the terrorists and those who are trying to support them”. Pakistan denies that India carried out any strikes, and says two of its soldiers were killed in cross-border shelling. In fact, Indian government is trying to appease public and extremists elements that India has avenged Uri attack.
Ajai Shukla, a retired Colonel and defence analysts in his article captioned ‘India reviews escalation ladder after Uri attack’ wrote: “With public opinion and the media aroused, and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowing to punish those responsible. And the army’s top operations officer declaring the military would retaliate at a time and place of its choosing, both sides of the LoC are bracing for what might come.” He has produced a chart delineating steps of escalation ladder vis-à-vis Action, Targets, Signaling counter retaliation and Diplomatic messaging. Under the head ‘Action’ various options are a) strike without crossing LoC, b) Strike across but without holding ground, C) Strikes across the LoC with ground being held and f) Crossing international border. Pakistan army is determined to retaliate any surgical strike or intrusion with full force, and such an act would be considered as an act of war.
The objective of divulging India’s secret plan showing steps of escalation ladder could be to create alarm in Pakistan. The strike by militants on Sunday on an army camp near Uri, in which 18 soldiers were killed and 29 injured, has inflamed tensions along the Line of Control (LoC). There is a perception that it was a false flag operation to denigrate Pakistan. But according to Ajai Shukla, “New Delhi has pinned the attack on the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a militia controlled by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), a wing of the Pakistani Army. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has declared Pakistan a “terrorist state” and the Indian Army, already grappling with public turmoil in the Kashmir Valley, is evaluating options to extract revenge for Uri.” Ajai Shukla added that “the PM has done well to de-escalate the current crisis. It makes little sense to confront Pakistan, for benefits that are not readily apparent, only because of a hard line taken earlier.”
In May 2016, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a lengthy analysis/thesis titled “India’s Nuclear Options and Escalation Dominance” written by Toby Dalton and George Perkovich. It read: “Pakistan’s acquisition of short-range nuclear weapons that it asserts can be used on the battlefield has compounded India’s deterrence dilemmas in ways that many analysts in both countries assess has served Pakistan’s interest. These Pakistani capabilities further frustrate India’s efforts to put conventional rungs on the escalation ladder below the nuclear threshold. Many Indian and Pakistani strategists believe that India’s current nuclear deterrence capabilities and doctrine are ineffective in this situation.” In view of ground realities, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot afford to any adventure that can prove self-destructive, and also bring ignominy to India and sufferings of the people at large. It has to be mentioned that in the war between two nuclear states, there is no concept of victor and the vanquished.